Brendan Fischer's News Articles

More Action in America from the Network of Billionaires

In the Center for Media and Democracy's break-through article on the American Action Network, we highlighted the resumes of the billionaires, corporate executives, and right-wing political operatives behind the group. Americans have a right to know more about who these guys really are, starting with AAN board member Robert Steel.

A few weeks ago, we broke the story of the grossly misleading American Action Network attack ad accusing Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold of creating the federal deficit. We pointed out how such claims are preposterous considering that those behind AAN and the anti-Feingold ads helped destroy the economy, and that some of AAN's board members benefited personally from the Wall Street bailout spearheaded by the Bush Administration. The Washington, D.C.-based group, a 501(c) organization that receives anonymous corporate funding, has already spent $750,000 attacking Senator Feingold in television ads. Now, AAN is at it again, airing another misleading attack ad making similar claims.

Anonymous Funds and The Founding Fathers

The 2010 midterm elections have been marked not only by unprecedented amounts of anonymous corporate spending, but also piously patriotic defenses of these potentially corrupting expenditures. What would the Constitution's framers have really thought about unlimited amounts of anonymous corporate dollars influencing American elections?

Republicans conjure the Founding Fathers when defending secret corporate spending in elections, pointing out that The Federalist Papers, a series of essays originally published in newspapers, were written anonymously. Considering right-wing claims of constitutional scholarship, it is surprising that they cannot come up with something more compelling than this isolated example, much less an example at all related to corporate, rather than individual, speech. Besides, there is no way to know whether James Madison would have sided with the East India Company's "right" to secrecy if it were buying newspaper ads attacking the ratification of the Constitution.

Department of Homeland Security Keeps on Creepin' On...

Recently, we expressed concern about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) testing iris-scanning technology on immigrants detained at the border. Since posting that entry, the Center for Media and Democracy has obtained a copy of the DHS “Privacy Impact Assessment” for the technology’s test run, and we are now even more concerned that DHS has not adequately considered this technology's serious implications for privacy and civil liberties.

Strange Brew From the Republican Governors Association

The Washington-based Republican Governors Association is running a series of clever ads calling to mind the Miller Lite “great taste, less filling” ad campaign from years ago, and attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. Responsible voters should be suspicious of ads brewed up by this Washington-based group.

Minority Report Becomes a Reality For Immigrants

Last week, USA Today reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was to begin testing new iris-scanning technology that stores digital images of people's eyes in a database. The two-week test of the new technology is to be conducted on immigrants that officers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency encounter at the border.

Iris-scanning technology conjures fears of Big Brother totalitarianism, brings to mind science-fiction films like Minority Report, and has drawn the ire of civil liberties groups. American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Christopher Calabrese tells USA Today that many fear that the iris-scanning cameras could be used covertly. "If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there's a camera and access to the Internet."

The Supreme Court's "Citizens United" Decision Threatens the 1964 Civil Rights Act

In Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally last week, held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, Beck claimed that he and his Tea Party followers would "take back the civil rights movement." While King's speech led Congress to pass the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, Beck's movement could lead to that Act's abolishment. Although Beck has not publicly called for overturning the 20th century's greatest piece of equality-advancing legislation, the libertarian philosophy he espouses is at odds with the way the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination by private businesses. While Beck did not clearly state how he would reclaim the civil rights movement (he asserted that his rally was nonpolitical and aimed at "restoring America's traditional values") other leading libertarian right-wingers have called for abolishing some of the Act's most important elements, saying they constitute unnecessary government interference with the market. While undoing the Civil Rights Act through political channels would be almost impossible, the U.S. Supreme Court may have granted the right-wing a means to do so through the judiciary. The Court's reasoning in its January 2009 Citizens United decision could put some of the most important parts of the Civil Rights Act at risk.

Supreme Discomfort: Doubting the Thomases

Virginia Thomas, wife of United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, recently created the conservative lobbying group Liberty Central, Inc. (, raising concerns about political impartiality for the nation's highest court. Although Americans generally expect justices to be politically neutral and judicial rules prohibit judges from participating in political activity, those rules don't extend to spouses, and a justice's decision to recuse him or herself from a case is theirs alone. Ms. Thomas' group, which has connections to the Tea Party movement, plans to be involved in November's elections and issue "score cards" rating Congress members on their conservatism. According to the group's mission statement, " will serve the big tent of the conservative movement" and aims to "make a difference in the fight for liberty and against the liberal Washington agenda."

Syndicate content